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Now That You Know the Facts on Birth Control, What’s the Next Step?

In part 1 of this discussion on rethinking your birth control, I defined what it means to be a woman. Not just a modern woman, but a whole woman according to God’s design.

Part 2 detailed attributes of her feminine genius in the form of female fertility. The cyclic ebb and flow of her fertile and infertile phases and the means by which she is able to read her own body language.

The next two installments detailed how contraceptives help fracture womanhood into parts, many attacking female health by suppressing natural hormones and inducing early abortions. Uncovered, also, was the dishonesty of pharmaceutical companies and the pressure placed on women by medical providers.

Fear being a major factor for couples new to Natural Family Planning, I spoke about the need for couples to address their concerns in part 5.

Knowledge is power, as they say, and I think (if you’ve been following along) I’ve covered a fair amount of ground so where do we go from here?

Trash the Contraceptives

trashSuffice to say, you need to trash the carcinogenic/abortifacient contraceptives (and the whole mentality that goes along with them) and reclaim your status as a woman.

Stop giving yourself away in pieces and demand that your spouse (and doctor) respect you, all of you. Because asking you to jeopardize your health does not equate to respect or love.

And, by all means, start respecting yourself from your imperfect skin and dimpled thighs, to your fertile mucus and menses. Ditch your Cosmo magazine and a few Pilates classes to delve into a book or take a course on Natural Family Planning (aka Fertility Awareness Method FAM).

Start a Communal Conversation

Then, most importantly, begin a communal conversation with your spouse and the One Who made you into the creative being you are.

One of the greatest gifts that stems from NFP is the ongoing discussion it triggers. Unlike long-term contraceptives, that make family planning a generally mute point cycle after cycle, year after year; natural methods invite husband and wife to relay their thoughts, fears, desires and frustrations regularly, so they can decide whether or not to make use of the fertile window.

Since human vision alone is short-sighted (and often selfish,) when measured against God’s Providence, couples seeking to practice NFP successfully turn toward Him (Who orders all things for good) and seek His will above their own.

Baby or No Baby?

Each new cycle leads them to consider, “Should we optimize our chances to conceive this cycle or abandon ourselves fully to God’s timing or do we have a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy?”

Indeed sometimes the answer may be an emphatic “YES” to hoping for a baby. At other times the spouses may discern a real reason to answer “NOT NOW.”

We know a woman who has a heart issue and another pregnancy could result in death. She and her husband sacrifice the fertile time in order to protect her.

Another husband could be struggling to provide financially, or be in danger of losing his job, or a wife may be overwhelmed with a particularly needy child, or suffering from depression, so they, too, may prayerfully discern a need to abstain, for the betterment of the whole family.

Being Sensitive to the Needs of Another

spousesThis is part of the beauty of remaining open to life, it causes a husband and wife to be sensitive to the needs of each other.

Our friend’s husband placed her welfare first, and he finds non-sexual ways to express his love during the phases of abstinence.

Perhaps, a wife will opt to work outside the home to help supplement her husband’s income, or he might help with the children more often to alleviate some of his wife’s stress; thus, possibly alleviating the restrictions that prevented them from seeking another child.

NFP Isn’t a Requirement

Couples aren’t automatically obliged to practice periodic abstinence. Some couples discern a call to let the Creator, alone, plan the size and spacing of their family.

Not to be discounted, less fertile/infertile couples, who dearly desire a child or another child, may be asked to carry their cross and/or suffer repeated loss. These couples can also benefit from drawing their strength, comfort and continued guidance from the Lord, Who pours out plenteous grace.

Is There Even a Difference?

Not infrequently discussions abound about the how’s and why’s of using NFP for the purpose of spacing/limiting children. Some ask if there’s really a difference between contraception and natural methods with regards to morality. There is.

With NFP, the wife’s body remains whole. The lovers do nothing to counter God’s design, whether they opt to engage in or abstain from relations during her fertile window. As for right reasons to abstain, couples who continually seek God’s will above their own and strive to mirror His attributes can find the correct course.

Remembering that contraceptives sell women on the erroneous idea that they can strip sex of its procreative purpose and craft a happier ending; it’s not surprising that when God foils their intent with a baby, they rely on abortion to wipe the slate clean.

  •  Fifty-one percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method in the month they got pregnant, most commonly condoms (27%) or a hormonal method (17%).

Or they accept the unintended pregnancy until some doctor informs them that their child’s imperfections are going to destroy their well-crafted blueprint: 2.1 healthy children (one boy and one girl of course), the white picket fence, and dual incomes. Then it’s off to the abortionist to spare themselves the inconvenience of rethinking their dreams.

Divorcing sex from its procreative potential leads couples to view children less (if at all) as gifts to be received and more as property to be obtained or discarded. One doesn’t have to look far to see how this mentality has negatively impacted marriage and the family structure.

My Newlywed Plans for Perfection

As a newlywed, I thought my white-knuckled hold on life would result in fulfillment, so I contracepted until we deemed ourselves ready to widen our circle. Like many people, I expected life to unravel according to my ambitions. But, three years in, God shook hold my clenched grip with the death of my firstborn. Devastated, my eyes were initially blind to the doorway that swung open because of that event.

My husband and I could have chosen to separate. Or we could have built up a wall of protection. But, instead, we learned to savor life, to value its preciousness and to accept its unpredictability (as well as its sometimes insufficient length). We kicked the Pill to the curb with those revelations and that unobstructed door has welcomed 8 unique persons into our family and ushered 6 souls into eternity. Indeed in my imagination, I never could have envisioned the abundance of blessings that would pour forth from our willingness to allow God to reign in our marriage.

Take the Next Step

After you dump the contraceptives and learn to read your body’s language, fortify your marriage by discovering more ways to express your love. Deepen your faith together and agree to solicit His counsel, first and last.

Finally, when your life changes (and it undoubtedly will) become a witness to Truth. Show that women deserve better than abuse, masquerading as modern feminism. Stand up as proof, that God’s ways are always better than anything we can conjure up.

Did You Miss a Post in This Series?

(1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan(2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Knowledge Is Power: How Doctors and Big Pharma Profit From Ignorance; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next

facing your fear

Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears

As far back as I can remember, heights have posed an unwelcomed challenge. I was the kid who scaled the jungle-gym only to become paralyzed at the summit and tearfully beg for rescue. Ferris wheels are totally off-limits and, even today, escalators require a mental strategy.

So, I never dreamed of spending my days balancing atop an extension ladder, but the chipped and peeling exterior of our old house begged for my attention.

After repainting the easy-to-reach portions, my three-step ladder quickly became insufficient. Lacking the superhero trait of Mr. Fantastic, I had to engage some problem-solving skills and a ladder seemed my next best option.

Some Self-Hypnosis

climbing ladder paint houseIt took a little self-hypnosis, of sorts, to talk myself up that first ladder, but work awaited and time was fleeting. I let go a little, and convinced myself that a fall from a standard ladder couldn’t inflict too much damage.

Now our lovely home was built on a downgrade, so while the front door was a mere three steps from the solid ground, the rear was two-stories above stable earth. That standard ladder only raised my stature to the lower heights of the our home’s backside and painting only half of the house didn’t appear sensible. An extension ladder became unavoidable.

Step by step, paint supplies balanced in my right hand as my left hand secured its death grip on the metal side rail, I inched ever higher toward the firmament.

Positioned at the ladder’s apex, I briefly dared to look down, a long, long way down. My previous risk estimations made from atop the standard ladder somehow didn’t ease my mind because from this height surely parts could break that might not be mendable.

Let Go of the Fear

Surrender and prayer were my last and best resorts. “Let go,” I persuaded, “let go of the fear.” Fear constrained me to the ground, but surrender could loose its hold. Reciting a prayer, I offered up my terror and released myself to the care and keeping of my guardian angel.

It’s amazing how fear has the potential to overpower in some cases, or to protect in others.

Years ago, I read a book by Gavin DeBecker called The Gift of Fear. In it, Mr. DeBecker gave real life examples of how people’s natural-born fear mechanism, or intuition, set-off red flags and sirens in the presence of serious dangers.

Those who listened to their internal sense typically avoided entering the danger zone, or quickly fled before a perpetrator could inflict harm. Those who over-rationalized away their instinct generally paid a painful price. In those cases, fear was a gift bestowed on the individual, a signal by which they could gauge a circumstance or assess a stranger’s unspoken intent.

Fear Needs to Be Addressed

While teaching Natural Family Planning (NFP), also known as Fertility Awareness (FAM) I realized that fear really needs to be addressed.

Often we have lovely, young couples register for our course to fulfill a marriage preparation requirement. Or sometimes they’ve attempted to self-study and feel the need for more instruction.

Patiently they sit through our witness talk and intently they follow along with the training, but sometimes I can detect the fear in their hesitations and read it in their body language. Some fear that they are not smart enough, or vigilant enough, to learn and apply the method, so as to postpone a pregnancy.

Beneath that fear, of their ability to apply the method properly, is the deeper fear of their procreative powers.

Outside Forces Are In Control

Quite often, the women have been controlling their cycles with hormonal birth control or contraceptive devices. These “outside forces” have led to the perception that fertility, or at least its suppression, is the responsibility of some “thing,” not the individual woman.

She feels relieved of her role in family planning beyond the routine exam and prescription refill. If an unexpected pregnancy occurs, she “blames” the it on her contraceptives.

Up to 99% Effective

Truly, the effectiveness rates of NFP methods are equal to (up to 99% effective) the best contraceptive rates (though that doesn’t mean they are morally or ethically equal).

A woman has the same chance of conceiving on the pill as she does practicing NFP/FAM. But the couple must practice self-mastery over their sexual desires, if their goal is to postpone a pregnancy with a natural method.

Our modern culture has duped couples into believing that sex has only one purpose; when in truth, it is meant to be both unitive and procreative.

Sometimes people question why birth control is unethical if naturally spacing children is not. Rightly, couples can deem themselves not in a position to welcome a child at a given time, but their plan to avoid the fertile time doesn’t directly frustrate that procreative end.

God designed woman with fertile and infertile phases in her cycles. In choosing to abstain during the fertile time, the couple is simply working within the system God designed.

Ends Don’t Justify Means

A well-used analogy goes like this: Two men have families to support. One man gets a legitimate job, works hard and provides for his family’s needs. The other man sells illegal drugs, makes fast cash and pays his bills. Both men have fulfilled their role as provider, but clearly their methods are not equal.

The ends don’t make the means ethical.

The culture also pushes the notion that children are a burden to the marriage/family, so fear stems from that thinking. We’re suppose to worry about college tuition, braces and trips to Disney World even before the baby is born. It’s no wonder newlyweds are frightened at the prospect of enlarging their family circle.

Far from true, children bring countless gifts to a family. They create an environment that invites their parents to move beyond their small, self-serving circle. Additionally, when marital trials come (as they always do) parents have a vested interest in working out their differences in order to preserve stability for their children.

Unexpected Pregnancy

Let’s think about the term unexpected pregnancy. If a couple is engaging in the sexual embrace, they risk a pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if they are contracepting or not. Sex between a fertile man and a fertile woman (during the fertile time) can result in a child. That’s why the only 100% effective means of avoiding pregnancy is 100% abstinence.

So the term, unexpected pregnancy, is illogical. Sex produces babies, at least some of the time. Couples who practice NFP/FAM understand that and take responsibility for it.

Fear, in the case of our students, isn’t a helpful natural instinct, but an emotion,fueled by man-made distortions. Couples need to identify their fear, face its source, and work together to overcome thinking/beliefs that are erroneous, or misplaced.

Once they manage their fears, they are better prepared to ascend the ladder of faith together. In time, some will even learn to surrender their man-made plans, allowing God to expand their limited view of happiness.

Next time, let’s consider: (1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan(2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Knowledge Is Power: How Doctors and Big Pharma Profit From Ignorance; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next